5 Ways HR Can Leverage a Marketing Mindset for Real Results

A couple of years ago, I listened to Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy, talk about the importance of having a single brand that customers, candidates, and employees can identify with. There’s definitely a business advantage to doing so, especially when you consider the resources needed to create and maintain a brand. While the message sounds simple, have one brand – it’s really not that easy to do.

Creating a single unified brand involves a strategic partnership between human resources, marketing, and communications. That’s not to say the HR and marketing functions are at odds with each other. Both functions work together daily to help the organization achieve its goals. But this is more than that. It’s about HR and marketing – whether that’s the communications team, public relations team, creative team, social media team, demand marketing team, events team, etc. –  using the same processes to design the cohesive strategies.

As a human resources professional, it reminds me of the marketing Ps – product, price, promotion, and place. And I’m going to add a fifth one, people. If both HR and marketing use the 5 Ps, here are five ways it creates organizational alignment.

Product represents the thing that the company produces and sells, regardless of whether it’s a physical item or service. Candidates and employees need to understand the organization’s products or services. They need to know why it’s created, who it’s created for, and what problem it fixes. Simon Sinek does a great job of explaining how leaders can communicate the why in his TEDtalk “How great leaders inspire action.” Employees who are passionate about the product are engaged with the company. And we all know the value of engagement.

Price is the money conversation. Not only the price of products and services, but the price of things in general. Several organizations at the conference mentioned the value of transparency, including bringing employees in the loop on the company financials. When employees understand the finances, they are in a position to make suggestions that can yield bottom-line saving or even better, increased revenue.

Promotion involves the way that others hear about the organization both from a product/service standpoint as well as employee referrals. When you hear about a great place to work, you want to buy their product. And when you hear about awesome products, you want to work there. Cross promotion is necessary; customers and employees are valuable brand ambassadors. Even candidates have the opportunity to tell their story. There’s value in an HR and PR partnership to make sure that the company’s culture story is shared.

Place signifies two things: where your offices (or employees) are and where your products can be found. There’s a real trend toward cool office spaces with an element of fun (think: massage breaks and bring your dog to work days.) But I think it can be equally cool for employees to be able to work from home. In addition, for some employees their “office” might be a retail space. The point being, whatever places and spaces you occupy, they need to be places that people want to spend lots of time.

People are the pieces that bring it all together. And in today’s business world, we can no longer view people in three separate categories (i.e. customers, candidates, and employees). Customers can become employees. Candidates and employees buy our products and services. And former employees do become customers. Organizations do not want a brand that conveys great things to customers but not-so-great things to employees.

I know that the marketing Ps model has been used in the past to talk about human resources. But the conversation didn’t go far enough. For example, price in the marketing model was aligned with compensation. We just need to take the discussion further to encompass financial transparency that represents today’s business climate.

Organizations striving to attract, engage, and retain the best talent are turning employees into brand ambassadors. They are including them in the operation of the business. They provide places to do the work that allow employees to be productive. And they treat employees, candidates, and customers with equal amounts of respect.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Havana, Cuba